St. Epiphanius icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, Cyprus
Commemorated May 12.
Orthodox icon of Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, who lived during the fourth century in Phoenicia. The Roman empress Honoria was his sister. He was of Jewish descent, and in his youth he received a fine education. He was converted to Christianity after seeing how a certain monk named Lucian gave away his clothing to a poor person. Struck by the monk’s compassion, Epiphanius asked to be instructed in Christianity. He was baptized and became a disciple of St. Hilarion the Great (October 21). Entering the monastery, he progressed in the monastic life under the guidance of the experienced Elder Hilarion, and he occupied himself with copying Greek books.
St. Epiphanius was granted the gift of wonderworking. In order to avoid human glory, he left the monastery and went into the Spanidrion desert. Robbers caught him there and held him captive for three months. By speaking of repentance, the saint brought one of the robbers to faith in the true God. When they released the holy ascetic, the robber also went with him. St. Epiphanius took him to his monastery and baptized him with the name John. From that time, he became a faithful disciple of St. Epiphanius, and he carefully documented the life and miracles of his instructor.
Returning to the wilderness of Palestine about 333, Epiphanius again sought the ascetic life with his disciple John. As the reputation of Epiphanius spread, more disciples came to him leading to his founding a monastery in Ad. There he was ordained a priest and became the superior. He led the monastery for some thirty years during which he further gained in knowledge and faith as well as gaining the ability to speak many languages including Hebrew, Syriac, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin.
In 367, Epiphanius was chosen by a council in Salamis on Cyprus as their bishop. In 368, he was elected to the cathedra of Cyprus, a position he held until his repose. During the following year, Bp. Epiphanius traveled throughout the area to participate in events that protected the Orthodox faith. He participated in the synod of 376 in Antioch where questions about the Trinity were debated against the heresy of Apollinarianism. In 382, he was present at a Council of Rome that attempted to reconcile the Meletian schism.
Through the intrigues of the empress Eudoxia and the Patriarch Theophilos of Alexandria, towards the end of his life St. Epiphanius was summoned to Constantinople to participate in the Synod of the Oak, which was convened to judge the great saint, John Chrysostom. Once he realized that he was being manipulated by Chrysostom’s enemies, St. Epiphanius left Constantinople, unwilling to take part in an unlawful council.
As he was sailing home on a ship, the saint sensed the approach of death, and he gave his disciples final instructions: to keep the commandments of God, and to preserve the mind from impure thoughts. He died two days later. The people of Salamis met the body of their archpastor with carriages, and on May 12, 403 they buried him in a new church which he himself had built.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council named St. Epiphanius as a Father and Teacher of the Church. In the writings of St. Epiphanius, the PANARIUM and the ANCHORATUS are refutations of Arianism and other heresies. In his other works are found valuable church traditions, and directives for the Greek translation of the Bible.
We admire St. Epiphanius for his dedication in defending Orthodoxy against false teachings. We also honor St. Epiphanius for his deep spirituality, and for his almsgiving. No one surpassed him in his tenderness and charity to the poor, and he gave vast sums of money to those in need.